Saturday & Other Stories

Saturday, May 4: A Passion for Our “Fuzzy Pooches”


When Bobby and Mary Clark were newlyweds, they were a cat family. Neither of their families had dogs when they were growing up. But, during Mary’s second pregnancy, she developed an allergy to dander. So, the cats were dispatched his mother’s house.

Then, not surprisingly, the family’s pets for many years were the hamsters that the Clarks’ children loved.

In the mid-1990s, Bobby decided that the family was lacking a certain vitality.  As a family, they had become wrapped up in school, work and TV.  Bobby suggested to – or perhaps even told – the family that they were going to get a dog. “They looked at me like I was crazy.  I probably was crazy.  Raising three kids, money was tight,” he said. “After Mary tested her allergic reaction with several breeds, we settled on a poodle.”

Their first poodle was a black miniature with a white spot on her chest. They named her Tootsie.

“We always laughed about registering her with the AKC as Madame Tootsie Wootsie of Mecklenburg County. Tootsie was a darling and bonded to Mary, and she reinvigorated the family spirit and taught us about unconditional love and playing,” he said.

“When Tootsie was about 2 years old she developed an autoimmune disease.  One night she was in so much pain, just circling around and crying. We felt helpless and didn’t really know what was going on.  We took her to the emergency vet in the middle of the night where they diagnosed the autoimmune disease,” he said. “We used our mortgage payment for that month to pay for the vet. It was the greatest investment we ever made because Tootsie responded well to steroid treatments and went onto live to the ripe old age of 16.”

Then, Lily came into the Clark’s home about six months before Tootsie passed on.  “Lily was one of the last of a breeder who was going out of business. We ‘rescue aware’ at that time.  We were amazed when the vet came to the house to help Tootsie move onto the bridge,” he said.

“Lily became very alert, and almost as if she knew she was going to lose her friend.  She went over to Tootsie’s face and gave her some kisses then stepped back.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” he said.

Shortly after Tootsie passed away, the family decided that Lily should have a companion.

They found the Carolina Poodle Rescue Web site and filled out the application. “We weren’t accepted because of an electric fence that had been installed by his daughter and son-in-law to help watch their two dogs while they were in Mexico for a year.”

Then, Bobby “accidentally” cut the wire going through their garden. They got Rosie from a pastor’s wife in Greensboro.  “She was an adorable eight-week-old, red bundle of fur!  She was supposed to be a miniature but she is really big for a miniature poodle.  Her father was large also,” he said. “We think Rosie’s size intimidates Lily to a certain extent in that Lily doesn’t like to play chase that much as Rosie tends to gallop through the yard like a gazelle and run Lily over. But they do play together which we really enjoy seeing.”

Many people in the Carolina Poodle Rescue Group know Bobby through the beautiful images and videos of their beloved pets that have moved across the Rainbow Bridge. “I started doing this as a way to show my empathy for the loss they were going through,” Bobby said.

Followers of the Carolina Poodle Rescue page have come to revere Bobby for the moving tributes that always capture the beloved pet at his or her very best. Tears flow when his tributes are posted, and his Facebook friends respect his love and talent for portraying “fur-ever friends” in such a sweet and loving way.

Bobby recently put a little structure around this effort by starting Fuzzy Pooch Productions, which can be found at  Fuzzy Pooch is also on Facebook as Fuzzy Pooch Productions.  “Fuzzy Pooch Productions offers services in digital media such as building digital scrapbooks of your memories, digitizing photos, producing video slide shows of life events that are important to you,” he said.

Some of these videos can be viewed at

“My goals for Fuzzy Pooch Productions are threefold:  On Facebook, my page displays beautiful images of animals as well as wonderful images of our world.  I want people to be able to go to a Facebook Page when they need a ‘pick-me-up’ from the stress of their job or to take refreshing break from the abundance of bad news there is in the world,” he said.

“We see such a plethora of depressing things happening today that it’s easy to fall into the trap thinking the whole world has gone mad,” Bobby said. “The images I display provide a welcome relief to show that the majority of the world and people are wonderful souls who care for those who can’t care for themselves.”

Second, Bobby is seeking to develop additional income as an entrepreneur. “I left Microsoft in September 2012 having worked there for almost 20 years. Microsoft was a great company to work for but had grown large by the time I left,” he said.

As many people decide in their lives, Bobby knew that he did not want to finish his “working life’ being miserable.  And, as many people also know in this economic downturn, it can be difficult to find a job at a more senior age. “Fuzzy Pooch Productions is something I’m passionate about and will allow me to enjoy my work life and help animal rescue organizations,” he said.

Third, and most importantly, “I want to raise the awareness and compassion of people who have been so caught up in life’s challenges, they have become desensitized to the plight of our two- and four- legged gifts from God,” he said. “I don’t know what ‘woke- me up from my self centeredness but if I can get one more person to care about animals and our world, I feel that will be a good note on which to continue my life journey.”

For those who have beloved pets to love, thank goodness there is a Bobby Clark in our lives and a lovely Mary Clark to support his passion for sharing the best in our world!

Saturday, April 27:  No “Stretch” to love this dachshund

Tonks and Stretch add joy and fur-ever fun to a South Carolina family.

Tonks and Stretch add joy and fur-ever fun to a South Carolina family.

When Karen Magradey’s daughter was diagnosed with a serious illness at age 12, the girl’s grandmother asked if there was anything she could get her. “Although I was whispering in her ear ‘red convertible, red convertible,’ what came out of her mouth was ‘dachshund’ and Stretch entered our lives,” Karen said.

The family’s senior citizen retriever was slow to warm up to Stretch.  “At first we couldn’t tell if she was chasing Stretch for fun or if she just wanted to eat him,” she said.

However, as time went on, she adjusted and Stretch settled into their household.  After years of large dogs, Stretch’s 14 joyful inches and four stubby little legs made him seem more purse than pooch, Karen said, but the Columbia, S.C., family quickly learned that there was nothing small about his personality.

Napping? Expect to find a dachshund sleeping on top of you when you wake.

Call him to come? Stretch will take it under consideration.

Find him wandering around the top of the dining room table grazing on the plants and yell at him? Obviously you have anger management issues and need counseling.

“Talking to others, I’ve learned that you don’t train the dachshund, the dachshund trains you,” Karen said.

Some years later the family’s retriever chased her last tennis ball right on into doggie heaven. And feeling there just wasn’t quite enough dog fur collecting on the floor, they added Tonks, part golden retriever/part perpetual motion machine.

“Channeling her inner Houdini, she can open any door in the house, including unfortunately, my closet. Left alone too long, she lets me know how much she misses me by gnawing on my shoes — sweet, but a Hallmark card would be sooo much better,” Karen said. “Even sleeping, her fur vibrates with energy.”

Tonks enthusiastically regards Stretch as a fellow playmate, but some days Stretch is less than excited about playing with Big Foot. Still, they seem to get along well, and their days follow a familiar happy pattern.

So it was with dismay that one morning a few months ago that Karen noticed Stretch swaying on his back legs. Within a few hours, he was dragging them behind him.  As is the case with many dachshunds, he had ruptured a disc.  “Although we struggled with the decision due to the expense, we settled on surgery which seemed to offer the best chance for a full recovery,” Karen said.

Within a few days he was back home and on the mend. Then, one evening Karen noticed he seemed to be struggling to breathe.

“A visit to the veterinary emergency clinic resulted in a diagnosis of pneumonia.  As the hours in the oxygen crate mounted up and the bill kept increasing, we teetered on the edge of just taking him home and letting nature take its course, but somehow we just couldn’t do it,” she said.

Fortunately, after a few days, Stretch turned the corner and started down the road to recovery.  Now, he’s his bouncy little self again with a nifty zipper-like scar running down his back.

“For quite a while I kicked myself for spending so much money on a dog when we have so many other needs in our household,” Karen said. “But then I think about the dark days when my daughter was so ill and Stretch was sometimes the only thing that kept us laughing. Looking at my two dogs, I’ve come to realize that sometimes what’s in your bank account isn’t as important as what’s curled up at your feet.”

Saturday, April 20: An Understanding in Love

TinaTina McNee has had a lifelong love for dogs. She grew up with German Shepherds, but her passion for animal rescue and for the care of the most vulnerable of all began when she went to a New Jersey high-kill shelter in 1995 to find a companion for her cat Bob. At the very top in the back of a cage was a dirty white furball all curled up.

Tina asked, “What is that?” The bedraggled pup was a Maltese. When they handed him to Tina, he curled around her neck and held on for dear life. Even when Tina let go, the dog clung to her, no doubt recognizing the kind heart belonging to the lovely lady who had found him. “We named him Glenny.”

He was sick with Cushing’s disease, pancreatitis and diabetes. But Tina didn’t give up on him, and he lived two more years and died in her arms while waiting for an ultrasound.

In 1997, three weeks after Glenny died, Tina wanted another dog. “But I wanted two so that they would be company for each other. Not knowing any better, I went to the local mall and found a 6-month-old Maltese puppy and a 5-month-old Bichon
Frise. We named them Bentley and Wilbur. They were so bonded that I began to think if one should pass, maybe we should get a third.”

In 1998, one of Tina’s groomer friend had a couple of 2-month-old Yorkies. “I had wanted a girl and already had her name picked out, Sofia. I saw a boy first, and George said that we had to get both. We named him Jules. They were the original four dogs, plus Bob the cat.”

Tina and George’s pet family had grown. But in 2011, Tina answered a plea that was posted by a veterinarian. A Standard-Bichon mix, named Charlies, was in need of a home. His 80-year-old owner was placed in hospice care. The owner’s adult children signed him over to the
vet for euthanasia. “Dr. Molly just couldn’t do it. She had treated him his entire life. He was 12 years old, diabetic and blind. I drove 250 miles to Maryland with my four ‘littles’ in tow the very next day.”

When she arrived at the vet’s office, she realized that she had never asked if Charlie got along with other dogs! She held him the entire ride home while he squirmed the whole time. “He settled right in. If  I didn’t tell you he was blind, you’d have a hard time realizing it! He had enlarged neck lymph  nodes that I noticed from day one and questioned the vets about. I could not regulate his diabetes for months, which is highly unusual.”

Five months later, he had three grand mal seizures. By this time he had gone, and was going through, a battery of tests. Nothing. The internal medicine vet found nothing wrong. She kept telling the vets to check the lymph nodes. Finally, after more symptoms, Charlie’s vet suggested aspiration of the nodes. The diagnois was cancer. It has not spread but was inoperable because it was in the jaw and salivary glands. Charlie fought a remarkable battle against the disease, enduring radiation, chemotherapy and medications. Finally, he let Tina know it was time. He wanted peace. “It was only eight months but that boy stole my heart big time. He started my love for the Standards. There was something so differently special about him. He had such a gentlemanly way.”

In October 2011, one month after Charlie was gone, Tina searched for a dog like him and found a little one at the high kill shelter in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was on the kill list because of his age and condition and a bloody nose. “While I was at the shelter, two young boys brought in a small poodle wrapped in a towel. He was emaciated, lethargic, a spine hunched like a camel and totally lame,” Tina said. “I told them I would take him but the shelter had a 72-hour stray hold.

“I thought for sure he would die in there. I had to have an approved rescue pull them because they were rescue only. The rescue was so grateful that I was taking not one but two dogs and did not charge any fees.”

Those dogs are Brutus, now age 11, and a toy poodle, bichon mix with some behavioral issues and Yimmy, a toy poodle who now walks, bounces and hops!

One month later, a rescue group put a plea for a foster for Pablo, an 18-year-old blind toy poodle. He was saved the year before from the same shelter as Brutus and Yimmy and had an orange-sized tumor on his neck and chest.

After being bounced around, he was in a foster home where he was being bullied by a couple of other dogs and was living in a bathroom. Tina did not hesitate. She drove straight to Manhattan to get him. “When a potential adopter came through, I
decided I had to adopt him,” Tina said. “I couldn’t bear the thought of him at 18 being uprooted again.”

In December 2011, Tina began an online search for a dog that looked like Charlie. She looked at many photos and saw a white Standard Poodle named Sanjia at Carolina Poodle Rescue in South Carolina. “After being approved, I explained that I was coming to the farm with my then seven geriatric, medical special needs ‘littles.’ Then, I saw a photo of an apricot Standard named Max.”

Max had Addison’s. He was a 2-year-old owner surrender and euthanasia request. “But the vet found CPR instead,” Tina said.

Tina and George adopted Max and promised to return for Sanjia in a few weeks as soon as Max became acclimated. A groomer adopted Sanjia just as the couple was making arrangements to go back to get him. “We drove 1,500 miles round trip in three days for Max,” Tina said.

Then Jake, the one too many Milkshakes, was brought to New York by Carolina Poodle Rescue for an adoption event. The 5 1/2-year-rold chocolate Standard with Addison’s found a home with Tina and George.

Last July, George transported an older diabetic toy poodle and female Standard, both owner surrenders from New York to the CPR Dreamweaver Farm. He was to bring home Fitzgerald, a 5-year-old white Standard Poodle. “I didn’t know that he was also bringing home Double, a 6-year-old AKC Registered Standard. Both apparently had behavioral issues,” said Tina, who was undaunted by the challenge.

Wilbur died as a result of cancer, vestibular and degenerative bone diseases, only 18 hours after George came home with Fitzgerald and Double. Then, in early December 2012, Jules lost his battle from the recurrence of his aggressive cancer. He had lived more than four years in remission — about two years longer than his vets had expected.

Today Tina and George are the parents to four Standards, five “littles.” Many people are in awe of her commitment to rescue and the care that she gives to those dogs whom others have abandoned. But Tina is humble. “There are so many dog lovers that do so many wonderful things. I feel special in that I am a part of, and belong to, this amazing group of people.”

Friday, April 19: A “Community” of Love

Keno, left, and Emmy Lou find that there's no place like home in Georgia!

Keno, left, and Emmy Lou find that there’s no place like home in Georgia!

Keno was the first adoption for Mary and John.  Their older poodle, Glenda, who was Mary’s first dog, had died and the “younger” poodle Lily, age 13, was ill and lonely. The process of finding and adopting Keno was difficult, and he wasn’t in great shape when Lily first met him.

Dirty and sick with an ear infection, Keno arrived in his new home on a Saturday, went to the vet on Monday for meds and visited the groomer on Tuesday. The trip to the groomer did it — Lily suddenly became like a puppy!  She loved him and even allowed him into spaces that Glenda was not allowed – such as the couch she had taken over from us. Keno’s healing presence rejuvenated the ailing Lily, and Mary became convinced that he was responsible for their having nearly four months more of a happy Lily.

When she went to the Rainbow Bridge, Mary and John went in search of a companion for Keno – and a pal for themselves. They found Carolina Poodle Rescue, and Mary saw Emmy Lou. She didn’t realize that Emmy Lou was being fostered in Florida. But, the distance didn’t matter. There was “something about that face, those eyes, that hair,” Mary said.

Interviewed by adoption counselor Lynn Benden in New York, Mary passed to the next level and was interviewed by Emmy’s foster mom, the inimitable Mary Winburn.  She disclosed everything about Emmy – every aspect of her behavior. She also grilled Mary, in her own way. “No way was Emmy Lou leaving her pack without Mary knowing exactly who was taking her,” Mary said.

John was not keen on driving to Florida to get a dog. Eventually he agreed, saying, “OK,  I’ll make the drive and at least meet Emmy Lou and we’ll see – but it sure would be nice if the Winburns lived near Daytona Beach.” Near Daytona Beach? How about in Daytona Beach! The couple packed, spiffed up Keno a bit, and headed to the Winburns’ home in Florida.

Mary skillfully put all four of her dogs in a room where they could see us but not interact. They had much to say about that. She left Emmy out on her own to wander about. Mother Winburn carefully instructed the prospective adopters to pay no attention to the shy Emmy, who was especially wary of men. “She would not really approach anyone,” Mary said, but Emmy Lou went timidly to Beau, Mary’s husband, to daintily pluck Cheetos from his outstretched hand.  Mary and John loaded up on Cheetos and made contact with Emmy for the first time, right in Mary Winburn’s house!

Once that was out of the way, they met the Winburn poodles. “Wonderful, smart, happy, behaved, funny , beautiful — not enough adjectives,” Mary said. “I loved them all, but Rosie captured my heart right away. Though she’s red and Lily was white, I could feel Lily’s spirit in Rosie, not in a ‘woo-woo’ way. It was her energy and attitude. She lives large, and she lives to love,” Mary said.

“I knew Emmy had been in good hands with all of the Winburns – people and poodles – but I was quite sure that some of Rosie had to have rubbed off on this shy little girl. I was hooked. And, so was John.

“Emmy and Keno connected immediately and, with the exception of some establishment of pack hierarchy rituals, they have been stuck like glue since Day 1,” she said.

The smart, goofy Keno!

“Keno is a very goofy and very smart boy who loves the world,” Mary said. “His paws are HUGE, and he does not possess the natural grace usually seen in poodles, though he is a physically stunning dog. However, no object is too large or small for Keno to careen into, and nothing is too sturdy to break when Keno hits it. The exception is our six-year- old neighbor. Keno calms down for Baily like the perfect gentleman!”

Keno will do nearly anything for food. “You have to be fast with Keno. He might be a little clumsy and awkward, but he’s faster than lightning when there is a counter to surf or even a crumb of food left in an accessible place,” Mary said. “My counters have never been so clean! And, though he makes a lot of noise – asleep or awake — when it’s time to stalk food, he defines the word ‘stealth.’ ”

And who would have imagined that the boisterous Keno loves to be groomed? “He dozes off, so we hear, while being clipped and wakes up at the perfect moment to offer his paw for trimming and nails for cutting,” Mary said. “He ‘gets it’ when it comes to pampering. He is a snuggly guy – so loving and so very sweet with Emmy. He has taught her a lot!

The sweet “feral poodle”

Mary admits that Keno and Emmy are night and day. Whereas, Keno warmed up to both of us immediately (warmer with whomever fixed his dinner), Emmy warmed up faster to Mary than to John. This was just as Mary Winburn said it would be.  And although she and Keno are very close, Keno attempted to establish his place of authority in the pack when Emmy Lou arrived. They engaged in some play, and Keno was kind of rough. The third time he attempted to push Emmy Lou to the ground the shy Emmy Lou sprang into action. “She turned the tables on him! He looked completely shocked – and mortified,” Mary said. “But, true to his good nature, he gave himself a good shake and came over to me to give me a high-five. It was almost as if he was saying “I let her do that. Aren’t I a good boy? We’re in this together, right?’

At first, Emmy Lou would nearly hide behind Mary when they walked, although Keno unabashedly forged ahead. But she also found a “place” to rest her head every night – right beside Mary! “She is a very snuggly and cuddly girl and is never far from me. I love it! She has a huge amount of energy – more than Keno — and needs to be walked twice a day, with playtime built in,” Mary said.  “She is GREAT on leash now. She has learned to curb her enthusiasm for squirrels while on leash far better than Keno has learned to stay calm when he sees another dog. She’s amazingly fast – and agile. Squirrels do not mock her. They fear her. That’s our girl Emmy – fluffy and dainty on the outside and running with wolves on the inside.”

Mary and John tried for a few months to get her to just respond to “come” and to “sit” without much success. Her start in life did not include much socialization until Carolina Poodle Rescue stepped in. “A feral poodle? How can that be? But she is a poodle and a smart one at that,” Mary said. “Keno taught her to sit – eventually – by banging into her when she looked bewildered at the command (and when I first refused to give her a treat for not sitting). She hasn’t missed a beat since – and LOVES her training time!”

Saturday, April 12: The Winburn Family Is a Portrait of Love!

Mary Winburn has “Standards” when it comes to dog rescue.

And she can count to five – and quite a few more — to prove it. Currently, Mary is the Poodle Mom to  Clancy Winburn, Murphy Winburn, Ricky Winburn, Molly Moofette Winburn and the delightful Rosie Winburn, who has a crush on a certain red Standard Poodle named Ricky Salzillo from Staten Island. But that’s another story.

The Daytona Beach Mom has been involved in dog rescue since the late 1980s, though she’ll be the first to admit that it was quite by accident. More than two decades ago, she entered rescue work by looking for a Standard Poodle to be a companion to the female “Spoo” that her husband had given her for Christmas three years earlier. She found a local breeder who was advertising Standard Poodle puppies and made arrangements to buy a darling black puppy.

But fate intervened, and she was greeted at the door by the breeder and a lovely, happy, bouncy Spoo named Fancy Pants. The breeder, amused by the poodle’s antics with Mary, asked if she would be interested in an older dog.

Mary didn’t dare ask if Fancy Pants was for sale. “How could she be? She was just so awesome!” Mary remembers thinking.

Fancy Pants’ story hardly fit her name. The breeder had sold Fancy Pants as a puppy to someone who abused and abandoned her when she was four. Fortunately, she landed in the care of a vet, who found her microchip, and contacted the breeder, who had been looking for the perfect home for the poodle. For six months, Fancy Pants had been with the breeder but had rarely interacted with other humans. And little wonder! She had had a broken leg and tail that had not been treated.

But Mary only saw the beauty of Fancy Pants. “Both had healed crooked. To me she looked perfect! I knew nothing about raising a dog with a less than perfect past,” Mary says. “Having only raised puppies from breeders, I decided to give it a shot. I’d like to say it was easy but it wasn’t.”

Fancy Pants was terrified by Mary’s husband and teen-age son. She didn’t want to come back into the house once she was outside She loved to eat cloth hair scrunchies, the sponges from the sink, and stuffed animals. Skin cream was her favorite. She loved to chase lizards on the patio and destroyed several screen doors getting to them. She hated crates and did not like to be contained in any way, “making sleeping at night very interesting at first.”

But as time went on, Fancy Pants emerged as a joyous, obedient girl immerged. “My son became her favorite person, and she could be seen sleeping on his bed at night.”

In the mid-1990s, Mary became affiliated with a Missouri rescue group when her son joined the U.S. Marine Corps. She became a part of an internet chat group for Marine moms and met the director of a Missouri poodle rescue group whose son was stationed at the same base as Mary’s son. One day the friend sought Mary’s help. Could she transport several poodles given to her from a raid on a puppy mill in Mississippi? Several were coming back to her and an 8- month-old puppy was going to a town in Florida several hours south of Mary.

Mary was to meet others in Alabama and help do a part of the journey for the poodles. She was to take the puppy to my home for a week or so until the new owner from south Florida could come get him. The dogs were matted, filthy and smelled horrible!

“I wasn’t even sure what color the puppy was. But the dogs traveled well with the windows down in my van in 50-degree weather! When we dropped the other poodles for the next leg of the journey, the puppy was lonely by himself and my preteen daughter went and sat with him in the back of the van for the remainder of the trip back to our home.”

And then Mary heard her daughter saying softly to the puppy, “You’re going to be mine and sleep in my room.”

It was hard for Mary to remind her daughter that the puppy was only staying for a few weeks! Fate intervened again, however, and the puppy, who was found to be white under all the dirt, was in need of a home when the adoption fell through. Mary gladly paid the adoption fee.  “That puppy was going nowhere!”

Mary’s first attempt at rescue transport and foster mom had resulted in “failure” – a major problem in the rescue world!

Throughout the first two rescue efforts, Mary realized how important having a supportive family and good stable poodle with no bad past history could be. Mary’s husband taught many fosters than men can be gentle and loving, and her “Christmas present“ poodle taught rescues that humans weren’t so bad.

For several years after rescuing the puppy, demands of Mary’s career, three poodles, and her family led her away from rescue. But it always remained in the back of her mind. Her education nd careers were in social work, child abuse, and special education, and Mary always had a fondness for the worst cases. As time went on, Mary’s “Christmas present” poodle and Fancy Pants (renamed Laci) went to the “Rainbow Bridge.” With only one poodle, Mary knew she wanted more, but she was too busy and stressed helping people. “I didn’t have it in me to rescue poodles too, so over a period of several years I bought three Standards and had two given to me by a breeder friend. Two of those have also gone to the Rainbow Bridge.”

Still in the back of her mind was the need to rescue. Ultimately, she found Carolina Poodle Rescue in South Carolina. A native of the Palmetto State, Mary felt drawn to the rescue organization. She became an adoption counselor and helped other people find their rescue dogs. All of her work was done on the phone and Internet.

“It was fulfilling but not enough. I wanted more direct contact with the dogs, but the group was nine hours away, and there were no Standards at the time that needed fostering.”

Then, in 2009, Mary was asked to pick up a 3-month-old Standard Poodle puppy just over the Georgia border. Her elderly owners had purchased her and found a puppy was too much to handle. Mary’s assignment was to foster the puppy and then take her to the CPR farm. “She was sassy, active, obstinate, and the most loving little red girl I had ever seen. Needless to say, she never made it to the farm, and I had my second transport and foster failure under my belt,” Mary says.

In 2010, Mary was contacted by a Florida poodle rescue to help transport and foster a 12-year-old Standard with Addison’s disease, found sick and almost starved to death after his elderly owner died.

“This was my first medical challenge. Larry was a sweet, old soul who wanted nothing but food, a soft bed, some love and occasionally the warm sun on his back,” Mary says.

She was prepared to keep him until a head-on collision put Mary in the hospital and rehabilitation for six months. Larry found his way to a home with a great family. Undaunted by a few broken bones, Mary jumped back into fostering as soon as she was physically able.

Since then, she has fostered five more Standards and has had only a 50 percent success rate at sending them on to other families. Two Standards, Melinda and Emmy Lou, found their way to homes where they have thrived with awesome families. Black Jack, a senior Standard with Cushings, was designated to go to another foster home, and Mary was just a stopover on his journey.

Erica, age 2, was one of Mary’s recent failures. “But I knew from the beginning she would be. She had been found almost starved to death and chained outside in another state. She was very, very sick with several autoimmune diseases and a condition called megaesophagus,” says Mary. “No one would ever adopt her, and she could not survive living in a kennel situation. I agreed to do what I could.”

Mary finds it hard to talk about Erica. “Such a sweet, humble girl. I wanted to give her all the happiness and love she so deserved and help her get healthy and well. It was not meant to be.”

Erica died six months later. Members of the Carolina Poodle Rescue family followed Erica’s story via Facebook. Tears were shed nationwide for the beautiful red poodle with a loving charm that showed through in her photographs.

To date, Ricky is Mary’s most recent foster failure. Mary saw him at Carolina Poodle Rescue when she went to get Melinda to foster. He had just come into the rescue and was too scared of humans for her to even consider trying to foster, along with Melinda. As soon as Melinda went to her new home, Mary went back for him. At first he wouldn’t come near Mary. The first night they were together he ran from her in the motel room when she would walk by. When she first got him home, he was great with the other poodles but scared to death of Mary’s husband.

“Any time either of us would walk by his dog bed, he would get up and run.” He has been with the Winburns for several months after living in several other homes and being mistreated by those entrusted with his care. He is slowly learning to trust humansain Mary reports that he will lie in the middle of the floor and refuse to move. He’ll even come up for kisses! “He will sometimes ask my husband for love, and other times growl or bark at him,” Mary says.

“His rehabilitation process will be the longest. I figured by the time it’s complete that we will be so bonded that it will be detrimental to both of us for him to move on. So, I’ve already admitted ‘foster failure’ and made him one of my own,” Mary says.

“People ask why I do what I do? Isn’t it sad to see all the broken animals? Isn’t it hard to let them go?

“My answer is this: Those loving, majestic creatures of God never asked to be put in the situations they were in. They didn’t deserve to be there. Yes, it’s sad, and sometimes I get very very angry at the people who hurt them, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

“They need to feel loved and secure and be well taken care of, and if I can help them have this then I will. I can’t save them all, but I do what I can. The love and joy I get back from each of them in return is worth more that pots of gold!

“Never mind the free entertainment watching them be happy and play. Is it hard? You bet! But the rewards well outweigh it all. Would I ever purchase another dog? Knowing what I know now, I would have to say that’s a resounding NO!”

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